The ZenWiFi XD5 does not complete what the ZenWifi XD4 set out to start -- it's similarly stripped-down hardware in terms of features. But it does have everything the older cousin had and then some noteworthy improvements.
I reviewed the ZenWifi XD4 in June 2020 and called it the first "complete AiMesh set," thanks to the fact it features AiMesh 2.0, supporting system-wide Guest networking, right out of the box. But its online protection and QoS features were not as robust as other AiMesh hardware of larger physical sizes.
More than two years later, the ZenWiFi XD5, released in late 2022, has improved performance. But it retains the mini designs and the miniaturized feature set.
Here's the bottom line: If you're living in a wired home, the ZenWifi XD5 is still an excellent buy, considering its friendly current price tag of $300 for a 3-pack. Better yet, you can use it as the wired satellite for an AX3000 AiMesh router, such as the RT-AX58U or GS-AX3000, to form a relatively inexpensive yet robust Wi-Fi system.
The ZenWifi XD5 works well in a fully wireless configuration, too, but in this case, you'll need to cut its speed at least in half at the satellites.
Asus ZenWiFi XD5: Everything the ZenWifi XD4 is and a bit more
Out of the box, the new ZenWiFi XD5 looks practically identical to the older cousin. It's a 3-pack mesh that includes three identical compact routers.
The ZenWifi XD4 originally included a router unit and a satellite-only unit, but since its launch, it has also been available as three identical routers.
You pick one to work as the primary router of the network, and the other two will function as mesh satellite nodes to extend the coverage for a large area.
For now, it's available as a 3-pack, but chances are you'll find it as a single router or a 2-pack in the future.
If you get a pack, the hardware is pre-synced -- all you have to do is set one up as the router and plug the other two into power, and they will form a mesh network.
However, the hardware will work as a member of an AiMesh system when coupled with other support routers. In that case, you can set them up the way you do any AiMesh router, as I detailed in this post.
Asus ZenWiFi XD5 vs ZenWifi XD4: Hardware specifications
The most significant difference between the ZenWifi XD5 vs ZenWiFi XD4 is that the former is a dual-band system that supports the 160 MHz channel width, while the latter doesn't.
Consequently, the XD5 has double the Wi-Fi bandwidth on the 5GHz band. Specifically, the current 2x2 Wi-Fi 6 client can connect to it at 2.4Gbps instead of 1.2Gbps.
However, considering both are Gigabit hardware, they will deliver the same sustained speed in any particular connection since their network ports are the bottleneck.
|Full Name||Asus ZenWiFi XD5||Asus ZenWiFi |
AX Mini (XD4)
|Hardware Models||ZenWiFi XD5||Mesh: ZenWifi XD4|
(identical routers, or
router + satellites)
|Dedicated Backhaul Band||None||None|
|Dimensions (WxDxH)||3.54 x 3.54 x 3.14 in|
(9.0 x 9.0 x 8.0 cm )
|3.54 x 3.54 x 3.14 in|
(9.0 x 9.0 x 8.0 cm )
0.67 lb (304 g)
|XD4R: 0.65 lb (295 g) |
XD4N: 0.64 lb (290 g)
|Color||Black or white||Black, white, wood pattern|
|5GHz Wi-Fi Specs||2x2 AX: Up to 2400 Mbps |
|2x2 AX: Up to 1200 Mbps |
|2.4GHz Wi-Fi Specs||2x2 AX: Up to 574Mbps||2x2 AX: Up to 574Mbps|
|Wi-Fi Security||WPA3 / WPA2 / WPA||WPA3 / WPA2 / WPA|
|Mobile App||Asus Router||Asus Router|
|Web User Interface||Yes||Yes|
|AP Mode||Yes |
(single unit or a system)
(single unit or a system)
|Gigabit Port||1x WAN|
|XD4R: 1x WAN, 1x LAN|
XD4N: 1x LAN
(per 24 hours)
(measured at the router unit)
|Processing Power||Undisclosed||Quad-core SoC Processor,|
256MB Flash, 256MB RAM
Other than that, the XD5's hardware is wall-mount-ready and includes mounting accessories, while the XD4 is not.
Asus ZenWiFi XD5: Detail photos
The same (stripped-down) set of features and settings
At the time of this review, the ZenWifi XD5 shares the same major firmware version (386) as the ZenWifi XD4 and an identical feature set.
Tips on Asus's firmware
Asus regularly releases firmware updates, a Linux-based operating system called Asuswrt, for its routers. Many of these updates add new features to the hardware -- they do more than patch security vulnerabilities.
Some updates may inadvertently cause a particular model to go haywire, likely because the company tries to do so much with its routers.
As a result, firmware can be a tricky thing with Asus. When it comes to updating -- especially in an AiMesh setup of mixed hardware units using wireless backhauling -- keep the following three items in mind:
- Avoid the initial major release(*): This is the first firmware version of a model where the 3xx number changes, such as from 384 to 386 or from 386 to 388. Generally, the latest minor update of the previous major firmware release is always the most stable.
- Avoid using Auto-Update for firmware: You should update the firmware when you see fit instead of letting the hardware update itself.
- Version consistency (in a mesh system): Generally, it would be best to use the firmware version of the same major release for all AiMesh members. (Mixing hardware of different releases might produce mixed results.)
(*) How to read an Asus router's firmware: As shown in the screenshot below, in a particular official firmware version, such as 184.108.40.206.386_47629, the 3xx number in the middle denotes Asus's home-grown major release. The following number -- often includes five digits, such as 47629 in the screenshot -- indicates a minor update.
(A firmware version that starts with 9.x.x.x instead of 3.x.x.x is a beta release meant for testing purposes only.)
The part before that -- 220.127.116.11 in the screenshot -- is the Linux kernel version that will also change, albeit much less frequently. It's even more significant and should also be taken into consideration.
On the one hand, moving between major releases might break your AiMesh setup or even your standalone router. On the other, new hardware comes with a specific initial version out of the box -- you have no option to downgrade it -- and some old models won't get the latest release. So depending on the mesh combo, your luck will vary.
AiMesh started as an add-on feature with firmware version 384 in early 2018 -- represented by the RT-AC86U -- and was stable by the latest minor update of this version. In early 2020, Asus released version 386, buggy in the early stages, to add AiMesh 2.0 via the introduction of the ZenWifi product line. By late 2022, version 386 became fully mature, and Asus started releasing version 388, and the history repeated itself. So on and so forth.
As a rule, in a mesh system, it's best to wait for a few minor updates of a major release before upgrading. Depending on the hardware combo, you might need to rebuild the system from scratch or reset and re-add a satellite node if you change the major firmware version (in one or all hardware units involved.)
And that's significant in the sense that the two share the same shortcomings, which are not present in other ZenWifi mesh sets (such as XD6, XT8, or ET8). That's likely because they have a similar mini-physical size and relatively low processing power.
Specifically, the ZenWifi XD5's QoS feature is also somewhat simplistic. All you can do is turn it on and hope for the best. Additionally, the AiProtection feature's network protection part doesn't have the Two-Way Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) portion
Two-way IPSP is significant since it protects the network from spam, DDoS, and other attacks, even when a computer within a network is compromised.
Before turning on some features, an Asus router shows a warning, as shown in the screenshot below.
The said features only work because a third-party scans the router's traffic. That's the nature of any protection -- a security detail will include somebody who watches over you -- there's no way around that.
So, these features inherently cause privacy risks. But they are turned off by default, and you can leave them that way to use an Asus router without sharing data with the vendor.
But despite that, the ZenWifi XD5 still has vast home networking customization. It has more settings and features than virtually all non-Asus canned mesh systems.
Most importantly, you won't need to pay for any add-on or log in with a vendor account to use and manage it, locally or remotely, via the web user interface or the Asus mobile app.
And if you have used an ASUS router before, you'll feel at home with the new mesh.
ZenWiFi XD5: Excellent performance
I put a 3-pack ZenWiFi XD5 through its paces for over a week and was happy with it. The system proved reliable with zero disconnection.
For Internet speed, in a wireless star topology, we generally got between 200Mbps to 600Mbps -- out of a 10Gbps Fiber-optic connection that was throttled down to Gigabit by the router's WAN port -- around the house. That was fast enough for virtually all applications.
In terms of Wi-Fi sustained speeds, in my testing, the ZenWifi XD5 landed right between the XD4 and the XD6, which was expected. Considering the Gigabit ports, there's no way the system could deliver anything faster than a Gig, despite its support for up to 2.4Gbps on the Wi-Fi front.
In terms of coverage, the ZenWifi XD5 was slightly better than the XD4. But that's more likely because its 5GHz band has a high ceiling speed.
It's hard to put this in a number, but generally, you can expect a single unit to cover some 1600 ft² (149 m²) though your mileage will vary. For best performance and coverage, wired backhauling is recommended.
Asus ZenWiFi XD5's Rating
Supporting 160MHz channel width; reliable performance with fast performance (for the specs)
Excellent set of network and Wi-Fi settings and features
No vendor account or add-on subscription is required; Guest networking works throughout the system
Compact design; wall-mount-ready
No Wi-Fi 6E, Multi-Gig port, Dual-WAN, or Link Aggregation
Stripped-down QoS and AiProtection features
Only two network ports per unit
The ZenWiFi XD5 is a clear improvement over the ZenWifi XD4 that came out some two years ago. It has enough to justify its current $300 cost for a 3-pack.
If you're looking for a reliable mesh system for a sub-Gigabit home network, this new set of mini hardware is an excellent buy.
And if you have a wired home, it'll consistently deliver Gigabit-class bandwidth throughout by itself or when working as AiMesh satellites hosted by a similar-specced router.
As it seems, the ZenWifi XD5 is the base for Asus's upcoming first MoCA-enabled mesh set, the ZenWiFi hybrid XC5.
But if you can live with a slightly slower connection speed, the ZenWifi XD4 is now also an excellent deal thanks to its reduced price tag.
So if you have relatively modest Wi-Fi needs, check either of them out today!